Exercise 101: forearm plank

Exercise 101: forearm plank

The plank – the definition of ‘that which is much harder than it looks’.  You may think you can pull this off with no trouble, but if will quickly expose those muscles that are not as strong as you think.

The basic version of the plank is well known, but the forearm plank is a useful variation. It has the bonus that it will tell you what other muscles groups you need to work on.

Here’s the technique, and here’s what your forearm plank says about you:


Here are the four steps to a perfect forearm plank:

  1. Get on the floor with toes on the ground. Forearms should also be on the ground with elbows under shoulders.
  2. Tighten glutes and abdominals.
  3. Look down at the ground, keep your head straight, then lift that body to form a straight line.
  4. Hold as long as you can, then lower gently.


The forearm plank demands core stability and helps to improve it. It also works shoulders, while being slightly less of a strain on your wrists.


Correct technique is really important even in this simple move. The two most important things to watch out for are:

  • Hips sagging or raising too high: that tells you that your core is not yet strong enough. Keep trying, and add some other core exercises too. Even a simple seated knee lift is a good start.
  • Shoulders need to be over elbows: if you don’t get this right, you could be straining your shoulders. If it is difficult to do, it means your shoulder muscles may not be strong enough for this exercise.


If you don’t feel quite ready to move on to the standard plank, try some footwork first. While holding the forearm plank, move each foot out in turn, then bring them back together. Then raise one leg straight, hold, and gently lower.

The plank has dozens of variations. Once you’ve got that core strength started, here are some more planks to really work that stomach. Your waistband will thank you!


The Author

Jessica Ward

Jessica lives in South West London. Boxercise, yoga, pilates, weight training and long distance running are her main interests.


Phillip H.
29 February 2016

Phillip H.

that's a thought; perhaps because the plank isn't showy like press-ups or lifts, it took a while for people to think it up. Like the article says, it is much harder than it looks!

craig t.
28 February 2016

craig t.

I can't remember ever having this exercise when we were younger. It seems old fashioned and simple, yet is also 'new'. It's a good move though. Once learned, always used.

Roger B.
26 February 2016

Roger B.

this is an interesting one and I do indeed find it easier. A great way to get strong enough to do more challenging exercises. I am a way off 93 seconds though...

Sasha B.
25 February 2016

Sasha B.

I have been trying to do a plank most days since Christmas and my record is now 93 seconds! Am super-pleased with that, and can really notice the difference on my stomach too.

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